If you are fan of Deal or No Deal you will know what the Dream Factory is. If you have never watched this programme, well not only are you missing out but you will have no clue what the Dream Factory is. Let me enlighten you.
Ten years ago this autumn a show hit our screens that is like no other. There is just one question: “Deal or No Deal”? You have one of 22 boxes and it contains one of 22 amounts ranging from 1p to £250,000. What is in your box, nobody knows except one independent adjudicator. You simply go through the game asking the other 21 members on the panel to reveal what is in their boxes and at various stages “The Banker” calls to make an offer for your box. Think you have the £250,000 then it’s a simple “No Deal” but if you have eliminated that box already and have a dwindling number of boxes left then you might accept the offer of say £3,000. It is a very simple game but has us all transfixed.
People apply in their droves. The waiting list means it can take years to even get a phone call from producers to see if you will be invited to the audition, and those that make it that far can often then fall at the final hurdle. One such friend of mine though was luckier than that and made it onto the show, and walked away with £14,000 and a holiday. And so when I was invited to spend an afternoon at the Dream Factory last week it was that friend, Alice, that I asked if I could take along with me. I wanted her to go back to the Dream Factory as normally that is not allowed. Sneaky, huh?
Seeing behind the scenes is always great fun. I love seeing the nitty gritty of operations. The waiting rooms, the control room, known as the gallery where all the direction to cameramen is done.
The banker’s room, though it was strictly out of bounds.
Being allowed to wander around the set and see the boxes up close and personal was great fun. To wander down the “walk of wealth” and to stand in both the “East and West Wings” a real treat.
As guests of Endemol, the production company, we were shown the whole operation from where contestants arrive, where they have their lunch each day (it’s a bit like jury service, you can be involved for weeks before it is your turn and that means overnight stays in a hotel in Bristol too, it really becomes your life for a while and life long friendships come out of it). The camaraderie is tangible. There is no rivalry here, everybody is in for their own game, they may have their own agenda on their day when it is their turn but than impacts nobody else and they can’t influence your game either so people genuinely get excited for their friends when they walk away with any amount of money. Well as long as it is not the 1p.
Having had our tour we got to chat to Noel in his dressing room which was such a treat. I feel I have grown up with this man but I didn’t feel it appropriate to point that out to him. Nobody needs to be reminded how old they are, do they? His dressing room is like a living room in a swanky studio apartment and as Noel pointed out “I spend half my life here so I want it to be nice”. And nice it was. And so was he, even when I asked if I could have a photograph with him and my beard.
Over lunch we also got a chance to play with a new app that has been developed, based on the show. It is a mix of Deal or No Deal and some great questions. I can’t tell you anymore than that as it isn’t officially launched yet but when it comes out (hopefully in the next few months) it will be a great way to while away an hour or two, and might wean me off Candy Crush.
Then it was off to a recording. We got to sit in the audience and be a part of it. All audience members have to wear black, it adds to the atmosphere. Noel appears and does his thing with professionalism, no visible auto cue and nails it first time every time. The show is an hour long and it took no more than that to film the game with today’s lucky contestant.
Clearly I can’t tell you the result, all contestants are sworn to secrecy until their show airs, and that can be eight months. If it’s the big money prize I don’t think you even get the money until the show airs. It could be pretty hard to hide your win when a super car arrives on the drive!
If you ever have the chance to go down and see a show being filmed, go. It really is great fun. And if you ever fancy having a go yourself, well you should do that too.